7 Replies Latest reply on Sep 21, 2010 12:57 PM by byrona

    Orion: Stability and Refinement over New Features!

    byrona

      I have been managing our Orion system for over a year now, prior to Orion I managed several of our other NMS systems for the company (for about 10 years now) making the configuration and management of NMS systems a bit of a specialty for me.   After my time working with Orion I can honestly say that I enjoy the software and the community even more.

      Unfortunately during my time managing Orion I have found the software to be less than stable.  I have spent countless hours working with SolarWinds support folks (which are mostly great folks) trying to identify and resolve problems with my system.  All of our previous NMS systems have been much more stable and required much less maintenance to keep running.

      Also SolarWinds has done a great job adding new exciting features to the product and I believe that their feature set rivals and often defeats that of the competitor products; however, these features often feel about 70% done with development needed for both usability and functionality.  After looking back at many of my feature requests, many of them aren't new features but just refinements on existing functionality.

      So, I have posted this in the Feature Request forum so here is my request...

      I would like to see SolarWinds step away from development on New Features for the product (features set is already really good) and instead work on a new release focused entirely on Stability and Refinement of the existing system and features.

      Thanks in advance to anybody that takes the time to read this, I encourage people to post their thoughts on this.

       

      Orion NPM SLX, Orion APM ALX, Orion Additional Poller SLX, Orion HSE, Orion Additional Web (x2), Orion NCM 1000

        • Re: Orion: Stability and Refinement over New Features!
          extrands

          Byron,

          I think I have to agree.  The new features are nice, but each one seems to come with a price in terms of stability, performance, and usability.  I think the one that comes to mind most recently is the connect now feature in Atlas and the automated discovery in NPM.  Connect now is a nice feature, something I want to have, but as it is implemented, its almost useless and from the posts I see on Thwack, quite frustrating to use in an enterprise.  Works great for a mom-n-pop running a flat topology, but throw a VLAN in the mix, and it comes to a screaching halt.  Same with the automated discovery.  Yes, it will discover everything out there.  It's just completely lacking in the granularity to allow for easy, selective additons to the database. 

          Posting comments and receiving a "we will add that to our list" is nice.  I would rather see these things resolved in beta, even if it delays release.  I have a difficult time believing some of the issues I see in the gold release were not identified in beta, and if they truly were not, the beta process should be looked at. 

          Those complaints aside, I am quite satisfied with Orion and the features and ease of use it offers.  Could it be better, certainly, but there is little out there that couldn't.  I think if SolarWinds would slow down new features, and concentrate on making sure the ones already released are fully functional (and I realize that my idea of how a feature should function is not necessarily universal) stable, and exhibit the expected level of performance.

          Steve Extrand

          Sr Network Analyst

          (1) Orion v10 SLX polling engine & Additional Web Server 25500 elements

          (2) Orion v10 SLX polling engine

          (3) NTA v7 742 interfaces

          (3) IPSLA SLAX

            • Re: Orion: Stability and Refinement over New Features!
              Questionario

              I agree... there should be at least one "stable" release every year, if possible two where the focus if fixing things and making the releases more stable...

              solarwinds does come out too early with new features, not having tested them... if thats communicated, thats ok... but if we present our managers the new features and they dont work... well that doesnt make solarwinds nor ourselves look very good.

              An example would be the network topology (or connectnow/ncm mac address finder, etc. as they are all the same thing). What we are still missing the most is the reliability of alarming. if orion loses the connection to its database, no alarms are being sent and the whole product basically doesnt work anymore.... the solution for that... failover engine... the problem is that the failover engine is quite costly just to gain reliability

            • Re: Orion: Stability and Refinement over New Features!
              scottd

              I too believe that SW should switch focus to producing a good solid product and get away from so much new development. New development is important but should not be more important than stablizing what you have already created. Although this could divide the SolarWinds audience because larger compaines usually aim for a more stable product whereas some of the smaller fry tend to like alot of new features and frequent change.

              We dont go to a new version unless it offers something we really need. (And this is not often)

              Then we wait for SW to patch it several times, watch the forum posts to make sure the known bugs have been sorted. Then we take the leap...

              It is my opinion that all of the new development has made the product bloated. Every time we version-up, the product as a whole becomes slower than the previous version. I dont view this as progress.

                • Re: Orion: Stability and Refinement over New Features!
                  chris.lapoint

                  Thanks for the feedback guys.  We definitely understand where you're coming from and we've taken a LOT of process steps to improve your upgrade experience, product stability, and performance with each version.  This started right after the 9.5 release, so hopefully you saw the differences between your 9.5 and 10.0 upgrade experience.  We understand we're still far from perfect, but we only released one SP on 10.0 and it was primarily driven by FIPS support for our federal customers versus bug fixes, so we believe we're making a lot of progress in the right direction.    

                  Also, it's worth noting that there are a lot of steps towards increased performance and stability (e.g. infrastructure/architecture work) that aren't readily visible in a single release vehicle and will pay off in subsequent releases, so stay tuned.  With respect to your issues with ConnectNow, it's a tough problem (admittedly tougher than we originally thought), but we're working through this now and we've got this as a top priority to resolve.    

                  So that said, our goal continues to be to do both.  That is, release new features and enhancements based on customer feedback that are intuitive and usable day one while at the same time delivering solid product releases that meet your expectations for stability and performance.   Personally, I don't think this is mission impossible and I believe our team is up to the task.

                  Again, we really appreciate the feedback.   We'd be happy to discuss this more with you as a group or individually, so just let us know and I'll set up a call to discuss further.

                  Thanks,

                  -Chris

                    • Re: Orion: Stability and Refinement over New Features!

                      hello guys.. i just want to know if fortigate supports NTA?

                       

                      thank you.

                      • Re: Orion: Stability and Refinement over New Features!
                        jspanitz

                        My own experience has only been slightly over a year and only since version 9.5, so I haven't dealt with any major bugs, but I have firsthand experience with new features not being fully baked.  Others at my present company may have a different opinion J

                        I personally agree with Questionario on this one.  After a feature release, a few "cleanup" releases should follow that fixe bugs / provides more stability / speed and polish the previously released new features.

                        I also wish some of the long outstanding feature / stability requests that I have either read about and or contributed votes on here in the forums would make it into the product.  Having participated in the latest beta, it does seem, to Chris's point, that they are indeed making some progress in this area.  But there are still, in my opinion, some glaring omissions.

                        A single alert engine (basic / advanced?), a report engine that can draw a line (charts / graphs), a single discovery engine between products (one that can let me find a mac address on a switchport like I can with Engineers Toolset) are just a few I can think of right now.

                        I too am pleased overall with what I have experienced with the product and the people behind the product.  I think SolarWinds has done an incredible job of keeping the product up to date and providing useful features.  I’d hate to see that end, but perhaps a brief pause to solve some of the bigger issues and to fully bake some of the newer features would be a good compromise.

                        • Re: Orion: Stability and Refinement over New Features!
                          byrona


                           

                          Thanks for the feedback guys.  We definitely understand where you're coming from and we've taken a LOT of process steps to improve your upgrade experience, product stability, and performance with each version.  This started right after the 9.5 release, so hopefully you saw the differences between your 9.5 and 10.0 upgrade experience.  We understand we're still far from perfect, but we only released one SP on 10.0 and it was primarily driven by FIPS support for our federal customers versus bug fixes, so we believe we're making a lot of progress in the right direction.    

                          Also, it's worth noting that there are a lot of steps towards increased performance and stability (e.g. infrastructure/architecture work) that aren't readily visible in a single release vehicle and will pay off in subsequent releases, so stay tuned.  With respect to your issues with ConnectNow, it's a tough problem (admittedly tougher than we originally thought), but we're working through this now and we've got this as a top priority to resolve.    

                          So that said, our goal continues to be to do both.  That is, release new features and enhancements based on customer feedback that are intuitive and usable day one while at the same time delivering solid product releases that meet your expectations for stability and performance.   Personally, I don't think this is mission impossible and I believe our team is up to the task.

                          Again, we really appreciate the feedback.   We'd be happy to discuss this more with you as a group or individually, so just let us know and I'll set up a call to discuss further.

                          Thanks,

                          -Chris

                           



                          Chris

                          I do appreciate the attempts to improve on these issues.  We manage a lot of systems for both our company and for our customers.  I can honestly say that our Orion system(s) are the most difficult and problematic to manage on our infrastructure and the success rate of patching has been pretty bad (I just upgraded to SP1 and am working with support to resolve problems yet again).

                          Stability and Uptime is very important to us and so far my managers are not at all happy with Orion and it's making me look bad because I really pushed to get this software.

                          The Orion software has great features and great potential and that is why I love it.  We originally compared the features of Orion to about a dozen other NMS systems and we choose Orion because of it's great feature set and the additional software options in the Orion suite of products for us to gown into.  Unfortunately the stability issues and countless hours of working with support were not anticipated or we may have chosen differently.

                          Please take these concerns to heart as the issues I have experienced and the expectations that I have are likely similar as any other Enterprise customer using many of the different Orion products.